“World’s best dish cloths”
“Revlon compact emery boards”
“Dual Duty Plus All-Purpose Thread 400 Yards-White”
“Clipper-mate pocket comb 5” all fine teeth”
“Morton Iodized Salt 26 oz”
Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives an excellent pair of owl-vomit boluses, donated by prize-donator extraordinaire Cheryl Davis. Owls swallow their prey without chewing it up (having no teeth) and so they spit out big balls of stuff from which you can extract all kinds of mouse and bird parts. Doing that is exactly like discovering diamonds in the ground.
Other runners-up win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt or yearned-for Loser Mug. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders get a tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, March 5; results published March 25 (March 23 online). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 960” in your e-mail subject line or it may be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational. The revised title for next week is by Brad Alexander; the subhead for this week’s honorable mentions is by Tom Witte. Join the Style Invitational Devotees on Facebook at on.fb.me/invdev .
Report from Week 956
in which we asked for ways to know that you know it’s a bad [any of five things we supplied; results for the fifth category, marriage, will appear next week]:
The winner of the Inker
You know it’s going to be a bad speech when it’s a little too obvious that the speaker is using the “imagine the audience naked” trick. (Noah Meyerson, Washington)
2. Winner of the genuine livestock-altering tool: You know it’s going to be a bad hotel when it accepts frequent-passenger miles from Greyhound. (Bird Waring, Larchmont, N.Y.)
3. You know it’s going to be a bad hotel when there’s a “do not disturb” sign at the front desk. (Matt Monitto, Elon, N.C.)
4. You know your kid’s going to have a bad day at school when the bully’s mom texts you to ask if your son will be there today or should she pack a lunch. (Ward Kay, Vienna, Va.)
Nixed signals: Honorable mentions
YOU KNOW IT’S GOING TO BE A BAD CRUISE . . .
When the captain is heard shouting, “But there MUST be a reverse gear!” (Alasdhair Campbell, Austin, Tex., a First Offender)
If the kitchen’s motto is “So good you’ll think it’s airline food.” (Jeff Hazle, Woodbridge, Va.)
When the background music is a loop of “My Heart Will Go On.” (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)
When the captain says “Some new guests have joined us” and asks whether any passengers speak Somali. (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)
When the waiter suggests ordering the Clear Liquids. (Judy Blanchard, Novi, Mich.)
When they keep rearranging the deck chairs. (Art Grinath, Takoma Park, Md.)
When the “Enchanted Island” turns out to be Staten. (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)
When you hear the captain announce, “Ladies and gentlemen, if you look to the starboard side, you’ll see the Bahamas 40 miles away. If you look to port, you’ll see the lifeboat from which I’m speaking to you right now.” (Shannara Johnson, Morrisville, Vt., a First Offender)
When your fellow “Family Cruise” passengers turn out to be Tom, Katie, Suri, and a couple of hundred Scientologists. (Courtney Knauth, Washington)
YOU KNOW IT’S GOING TO BE A BAD HOTEL . . .
When it advertises that the rooms aren’t just clean, they’re “forensically clean.” (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)
When the pillowcases are imprinted, “This side out Mon-Wed-Fri.” (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)
When the bellhop meets you with a shopping cart. (Shoba Nayar, North Bethesda, Md., a First Offender)
When the emergency evacuation instructions are pay-per-view. (David Genser, Poway, Calif.)
When the mattress tag says “Buy War Bonds.” (Rick Haynes, Boynton Beach, Fla.)
When the strip across the toilet seat is police tape. (Bonnie Speary Devore, Gaithersburg, Md.; David Genser)
When the chocolate on your pillow has bite marks. (John Shea, Philadelphia)
When you learn your accommodations are in, not on, McPherson Square. (Peter Siegwald, Arlington, Va.)
When you walk in to check in, and you hear a drawling voice saying, “Well, looky here. . ...” (Mike Gips)
When the hooker offers a discount if you’ll go to her place instead. (Jeff Hazle; Craig Dykstra, Centreville, Va.)
When you select Adult Entertainment on the TV, and you see live video of yourself naked on the bed. (Jeff Brechlin, Eagan, Minn.)
YOU KNOW YOUR KID’S GOING TO HAVE A BAD DAY AT SCHOOL. . .
When he says, “Mom, I’m supposed to bring in some protection money, whatever that is.” (Rob Cohen, Potomac, Md.)
When the new school’s lavatories are labeled “Crips” and “Bloods.” (Dixon Wragg, Santa Rosa, Calif.)
When he’s an airplane buff and tells you that today his field trip will be to see Blue Plains. (Elden Carnahan, Laurel; Jeff Contompasis)
When school bully mails him a pair of underpants with a handle sewn to the back. (Jerry Birchmore, Springfield)
When he forgets to change out of his Dora the Explorer PJs AND he has an algebra test. (Steve Langer, Chevy Chase)
When you catch him teaching the dog how to eat homework. (Larry Yungk, Arlington, Va.)
When he splashes on extra cologne to impress his lab partner — and it’s Bunsen burner day. (Amanda Yanovitch, Midlothian, Va. )
When he didn’t do the homework due Dec. 21 because he thought the world would end. Either he’s right or he gets detention. Either way, it’s a bad day. (Gregory Koch, Storrs, Conn.)
YOU KNOW IT’S GOING TO BE A BAD SPEECH . . .
When it begins with “Webster’s defines . . .” (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village; Mike Gips, Bethesda)
When the speaker’s first slide is titled “Background, Part 1 of 12: My Decision to Use PowerPoint.” (David Genser)
When the sign language interpreter starts leading the audience in “YMCA.” (Rick Haynes)
When the speaker reads aloud, “Pause briefly here and look into the audience with a sympathetic smile; nod vigorously; then continue with third bulleted item.” (John Shea, Philadelphia)
When the teleprompter won’t even look the candidate in the eye. (Amanda Yanovitch)
When the man delivering it is four feet tall and reading from a scroll and there are two legs sticking out of the farmhouse next to you. (Christopher Lamora, Guatemala City)
When it’s Nuremberg, and it’s 1938. (Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg)
Some more honorable mentions next week, including “You know it’s going to be a bad marriage . . .”
Visit the online discussion group The Style Conversational, where the Empress discusses today’s new contest and results along with news about the Loser Community — and you can vote for your favorite among the inking entries, since you no doubt figured the Empress chose the wrong winner. If you’d like an e-mail notification each week when the Invitational and Conversational are posted online, write to the Empress at email@example.com (note that in the subject line) and she’ll add you to the mailing list. And on Facebook, join the far more lively group Style Invitational Devotees and chime in.
Next week: Fearful Symmetry, or Droller Coasters